AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

This song is about as sleazy as you can get but I like it.

AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young got the song title from the 1962 animated cartoon series Beany and Cecil. The Show first aired on ABC Television and only ran for one season until the 26 episodes shown were cast as repeats for the next five years until it was recreated in 1968.

The specific inspiration for the song name was the cartoon’s main villain, “Dishonest John,” who would carry around a business card that said, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Holidays, Sundays, and Special Rates.”

Norman and Marilyn White, a couple from Libertyville, Illinois, sued the band for invasion of privacy after they were inundated with calls due to this song. Apparently, many AC/DC fans in the area dialed 3-6-2-4-3-6-8 (thinking the “hey!” as “eight”), which was their phone number. The couple claimed they received hundreds of “lewd, suggestive and threatening” phone calls, asking for various dirty deeds at low, low prices. The Whites asked for $250,000 in damages and demanded that the band re-record the song, but a judge ruled against them. The people with the bad luck to have 867-5309 had the same problem but they only had inquiries about Jenny.

The song was written by Bon Scott, Angus, and Malcolm Young.  The album was released in Australia and in Europe in 1976. The album was released in America in 1981 after Scott’s death and after the popular Back in Black. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Hits and #47 in the UK.

Lesley Gore, known for ’60s hits like “It’s My Party,” recorded this for the 2002 compilation album When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear. Her version was produced by Mauro DeSantis, who worked with Cevin Soling on the track… I couldn’t find it on Youtube but click on that link. Lesley Gore channels her inner Bon Scott on this one…I didn’t like the music part as much but her singing was spot on.

From Songfacts

This song epitomizes AC/DC’s dangerous and mean sound, with Angus Young’s heavy guitar and Bon Scott’s leering, vocals that would have scared the living daylights out of any unsuspecting teenage Pop fans when this song first hit the airwaves (they did it on a national TV show in Australia called Countdown, which was usually frequented by acts like ABBA and Bucks Fizz).

This was recorded at Alberts Studios in Sydney, Australia in 1976 soon after the sessions that produced the Australian version of their TNT album.

Regarding the lyrics, “Just ring: 3-6-2-4-3-6,” this was an actual phone number in Australia at the time, and it also could describe the measurements of a very shapely woman: 36-24-36. A year later, the Commodores used the same measurements to describe a woman in their song “Brick House.” Sir Mix-a-Lot, however, scoffed at these measurements in his 1992 hit “Baby Got Back,” where he says: “36-24-36? Only if she’s 5’3.”

The ending is one of the most famous screams in rock history. For those wondering, it’s spelled: “Yaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggghhhhhh!” 

This was used in the Norm MacDonald movie Dirty Work. It is played while Norm’s character Mitch and his friend Sam are wrecking a building in an attempt to get it condemned. 

On a 2008 episode of The Simpsons where they team up on a stakeout, we learn that Homer Simpson and the pious Ned Flanders have some common ground in their musical tastes. Homer likes AC/DC, and Ned likes their Christian tribute band: AD/BC, and their version of this song, “Kindly Deeds Done For Free.”

The song about murder for hire enjoyed a sales spike following drummer Phil Rudd being charged with trying to procure a murder in November 2014. The charge was soon dropped.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

If you’re havin’ trouble with the high school head
He’s givin’ you the blues
You want to graduate but not in ‘is bed
Here’s what you gotta do
Pick up the phone
I’m always home
Call me any time
Just ring
36 24 36 hey
I lead a life of crime

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap

You got problems in your life of love
You got a broken heart
He’s double dealin’ with your best friend
That’s when the teardrops start, fella
Pick up the phone
I’m here alone
Or make a social call
Come right in
Forget about him
We’ll have ourselves a ball

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap

If you got a lady and you want her gone
But you ain’t got the guts
She keeps naggin’ at you night and day
Enough to drive ya nuts
Pick up the phone
Leave her alone
It’s time you made a stand
For a fee
I’m happy to be
Your back door man

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap yeah
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap

Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
Done dirt cheap
Neckties, contracts, high voltage
Done dirt cheap

Dirty deeds
Do anything you wanna do
Done dirty cheap
Dirty deeds
Dirty deeds
Dirty deeds
Done dirt cheap

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

29 thoughts on “AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

  1. This was the first I heard from AC/DC. I can picture where I was, and felt instantly this song would be a huge hit, and that this band wasn’t for me. 40 years later I can still say I was right. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always liked this song, but I never had any idea what it was about. Thanks for the explanation Max. You might think that I am strange, but all this time, I have been singing, “Dirty deeds and the thunder chief”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cool stuff! Yeah, the phone numbers… I remember that Tommy Tutone song also. It’s ingrained in the memory of anyone growing up in the Eighties. Can you imagine how many texts those people would get today? lol

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with Neweipicauthor on this one: I knew the song but didn’t have a clue what it was about. They need some elocution lessons! Incidentally, the phone number no longer works; I shall call complaints later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would imagine they are pretty big in New Zealand since they started in Australia. Yea he could be more efficient in his methods!

      Like

  5. Certainly a flashback to my high school years! Not all that fond of it anymore but it’s a very interesting backstory with the phone number and all…not to mention the Leslie Gore cover! Some day if I win that lotto, I’m going to have to track down that ‘When Pigs Fly’ record…should be a hoot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve done the opposite as you…I’ve grown to like it more lol. It’s so damn sleazy but I love it.

      Oh the Gore cover is great! She actually sounds like him a little. She did a great job.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea I think he is on anti depressant medicine now. I just read a bio of Bon Scott…Phil was out there back then but it caught up when he got older I believe.

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  6. I was too young to see AC/DC when Scott was still alive…assuming they even toured here prior to his death. Plus…I’d never heard of them until a high school friend introduced me to Back in Black. She was from a rich family & was a tad on the wild side. We were goofing off in the gym prior to classes starting and she grabbed me by the back of the hair. I grabbed her hair and we proceeded to pull each other, equally, down to the floor…then, laid there and laughed like hell. I remember a guy watching us and he just stood there, shaking his head.

    I am a certified head banger and have thoroughly enjoyed all of their concerts. I am sad I never got to see Scott, live.

    I’d heard about the Tommy Tutone phone number issue. I’d have never guessed the same over this song. It didn’t sound like a phone number to me. I always leaned towards a safe combination…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought you were going to say a chick fight happened lol.
      I’m positive they came there in 1979. Mark’s friend had two tickets but Mark was broke…it was the Highway to Hell tour. He was pissed he coudln’t go and then kicked himself after Bon died the next year.

      30 Sep. 1979 : Greenville, SC USA (Greenville Memorial Auditorium) 3 days after Nashville

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      1. Yeah. Beginning of 8th grade. Had no clue… I was also stuck in the middle of my warring parents. 78-79 were tough years. In 1980, things finally settled down.

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  7. That picture sleeve is cool Max. I have never seen that before. When I hear that opening riff I just want to break things. lol That whole Dirty Deeds album is one fantastic spin. Just love it.

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    1. Sorry I left you hanging for a day…I’ve never seen that sleeve before either…I wonder if it’s an Australia release? I remember this album after Back in Black…it was like an album dropped out of the sky. Don’t know why it wasn’t released in the 70s here.

      Like

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